Giants Castle - History Of The Region
The Drakensberg was once inhabited by the San people, in the past known as the Bushmen. They were hunter gatherers who lived in caves and other suitable habitats. They have left us many of their paintings on the sandstone cliffs and cave walls, revealing their way of life and the many different animals and people they met. In due course, the Amazizi, a tribe of the Nguni race arrived, and occupied the river valleys and approaches to the Drakensberg mountains. They were pastoralists and agriculturalists, while the San people never tilled the soil or kept cattle. As there was no clash of interests, there was peace between the San people and the Amazizi people.
In the early 1800's due to a series of events in Zululand, the Amazizi were attacked by the Amangwane people. The Amazizi sought shelter in the mountains which were occupied by the San people and they clashed, probably over cattle. The Amahlubi people moved into the valleys now vacated by the Amazizi but they, in turn, were still fighting the Amangwane. The Amahlubi were thus forced into the mountains just as the Amazizi had been. For ten years the wars raged until the Amangwane eventually settled in the valleys, having removed of the Amazizi and the Amahlubi people. Four years later The Zulu King Shaka's warriors attacked the Amangwane who fled westwards into the mountains.
After this period of slaughter and destruction, relative peace returned to the Drakensberg mountains and the survivors of the various tribes came down from the mountains and re-established themselves in the river valleys. This reduced the pressure on the San people who had been badly affected by these wars. Respire was brief as within ten years the arrival of the Voortrekkers and the British settlers which led to further challenges. The clash over hunting grounds, private ownership of land, and the arrival of cattle led to ever-increasing numbers of cattle raids by the San people.
In 1849, due to the failure of many attempts to prevent the cattle raids, a series of buffer "native locations" were founded between the settlers and the Drakensberg mountains.
For some years thereafter, raids, particularly in the Bushman's River area near Giant's Castle, ceased almost entirely.
A brief revival in cattle raids followed in the late 1850's through to the 1870's after which the raids fell off dramatically.The last sighting of San people in the Drakensberg mountains was in the early 1880's.
During the end of 1873 and the beginning of 1874, Giant's Castle became internationally known as the site of the Langalibalele Rebellion .
For some months a detachment of the 75th Regiment of the 1st Gordon Highlanders was encamped just below the Main Caves at the junction of the Bushman's River and the Two Dassie stream which rises in the Langalibalele Pass. The cook of the detachment carved the figure 75 on a very large sandstone boulder which can be seen to this day.